Parking in downtown Omaha will be changing soon. The city has hired a new parking manager whose job will be to make downtown parking more efficient.
In the middle of the day, finding a parking space in the Old Market is not too difficult. But on evenings and weekends, it's a different story.
Eric Snover, manager of Zio's Pizzeria in the Old Market, says scarce parking can scare some potential customers away. "Everybody pretty much stays on the strip, in the heart of the Old Market. Otherwise they just leave if they can't find parking. They won't go on the other side. A lot of people don't walk out of their way or park out of their way."
And many times while street parking is full, parking garages sit mostly empty. But the city and it's newly hired parking manager Ken Smith are trying to change that by making the garages a cheaper option than parking at the curb.
"Parking should really be played into someone's economics," said Smith. "If you want more convenience, you should pay for that spot."
But for some Old Market regulars, a better price won't be enough to switch. "My biggest concern is just safety in the parking garages," says Caroline Noser, who spends a lot of time in the Old Market. "Having to go to my car by myself in a dark garage and not having anyone else (with me), I think it's more dangerous than parking on the street where it's more public."
The city plans to use more technology as well to make parking in downtown more convenient and efficient. The first step will be updating many of the parking meters to accept credit cards. Those new meters should start showing up in 2013.
The city is also considering technology that would let you know on your smart phone where any open parking spots are in a given area.